A new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was recently detected in the UK, along with 30 other countries, over the past few weeks. The C.37 variant, commonly known as the Lambda variant, was classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a “variant of interest” on June 14. It was first detected in Peru in August 2020. WHO made the classification as, according to a report in the Financial Times, the variant was only seen in one out of every 200 COVID-19 patients in Peru, earlier. However, this number has now increased to account for 80% of COVID-19 infections in the country. It is also being seen in many other countries, such as the US, UK, France and Germany, which suggests that it is highly transmissible in nature.
According to ANI, the UK Health Ministry has said that the Lambda variant is “much more deadly” than the Delta variant. Recently, the Malaysian Health Ministry also said the same. So far, six COVID-19 patients in the UK reportedly were infected with the Lambda variant. According to reports, the Lambda variant has seven unique mutations in its spike protein.
While researchers are worried that the high transmissibility rate of the Lambda variant may result in mutations, making the virus more resistant to vaccines, there is no conclusive evidence that it causes more severe disease or reduces vaccine efficiency. The Lambda variant has not yet been seen in India, ANI reported on July 7.
Currently, the B.1.617 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, commonly known as the Delta variant and first seen in India, is the dominant variant in many countries. In May, WHO identified it as a “variant of concern”, and as of July 6, it has been identified in over 98 countries. WHO said that the variant has“significantly increased transmissibility” and a “growing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant”. A recent study by the ICMR concluded that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are more effective against newer variants than one dose, in people who have recovered from the disease as well as healthy people, the Times of India reported.